To some, it may sound scary, but traveling solo as a woman is one of the most rewarding and empowering ways to explore the world. Solo female travel is on the rise, and we know why.
Women traveling solo experience the freedom that comes from stepping outside of their comfort zone. You’ll see the world from a new angle when you set off on a solo journey, and the best part is you can go wherever you want, whenever you want.
The first step to planning for a solo trip is to not talk yourself out of it (or let anyone else talk you out of it, either). Traveling alone as a woman might sound scary, and you or your loved ones might worry about the idea of it, but don’t let nerves deter you from setting off on an adventure.
By taking some precautions and doing a little advance planning, you can feel safe and confident throughout your travels.
Maybe there’s a bucket list destination that you’ve always dreamed of visiting, or maybe you’re just eager to experience something new. Regardless of your solo travel goals, it pays to do some research before taking off.
Things like climate, local customs, public transportation, and how safe a city is considered to be are all things you’ll want to know before jumping on a plane.
As a bonus, researching your destination will give you a chance to put together a list of museums, sites, or restaurants to check out!
No one ever wants things to go wrong, but it pays to be prepared when they do. Having a contingency plan in place will keep you from feeling lost or stranded if things don’t work out the way you planned.
Having a predetermined safe and clean place to rest is crucial after a long day (or several days) of travel. Even if you prefer to “play it by ear” and go wherever the spirit takes you, it’s smart to book your first night in each new location at a hostel or hotel before you arrive.
The last thing you want to do is show up tired and grimy from travel and not have a place to freshen up and rest your head—especially if it’s after dark.
If this is your first solo trip, there are some things you might want to consider before you embark.
Opt for somewhere familiar, close to home, or at the very least, somewhere where you speak the language for your first trip. This could mean choosing to revisit the location of a favorite group trip you took, traveling within your own country, or traveling abroad to another English-speaking country. You’ll likely feel safer and more comfortable in a place where you don’t need to worry about a language barrier.
Book your accommodations in advance. One of the best things about solo travel is how easy it is to pick up and relocate on a whim, but if you’ve never traveled on your own before, you may be more comfortable knowing in advance that you’ll have a place to stay every night. Once you’re a more comfortable solo traveler, you might realize you prefer to be more impulsive with your accommodations.
When packing for a solo trip, try to travel light, but make sure you cover the essentials. One of the best things about traveling solo is that you can do what you want when you want, but it can be difficult to be spontaneous when you’ve got two suitcases and a backpack in tow.
Shoes are essential and depending on your destination, you might need to bring several pairs. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for nearly every trip. Boots are crucial if you’re traveling somewhere cold or plan on doing a lot of hiking. Lightweight sandals or flip-flops are great for the beach and can double as shower shoes if you find yourself in a somewhat unsavory hostel.
Pack light layers that can be mixed and matched to create various outfits from a few pieces. It can be helpful to choose a color palette to stick to when packing—that way, you know all of your clothes will work together.
A lightweight blanket scarf or pashmina can perform multiple duties as an airplane blanket, shawl, or beach cover-up and can even be rolled into a pillow.
Travel tip: Wear loose, comfortable clothes on the plane, but also consider wearing your bulkiest items, such as hiking boots, to save valuable suitcase space.
A small first aid kit and any necessary medications are musts for any solo female traveler, as is sunscreen and a good moisturizer (travel dries out your skin!) It’s also nice to bring along some compact toiletries and accessories to keep yourself feeling good while traveling. This Gillette mini razor takes up virtually no space, and carrying a travel hair dryer means that you won’t need to resign yourself to a messy bun every day.
Finally, a reusable water bottle is always a good idea. It’s an eco-friendly way to stay hydrated.
Safety is often one of the biggest concerns for a solo female traveler, but you don’t need to let fear stand in the way of you seeing the world. That being said, there are several precautions you can take to help you stay safe on your travels.
Try to check in with your friends or family regularly and keep them updated on your whereabouts. It will give everyone peace of mind. Make sure they have any necessary numbers, like the number of the establishment you’re staying in.
Pickpockets and thieves can be an issue in even the safest cities. Keep your passport and money safe and well-concealed in something like this travel money belt.
It’s also a good idea to lock up your belongings when you’re sleeping or out for the day. Many establishments will store your suitcase somewhere secure for you.
If you’re staying in a hotel, make use of any in-room safes, and consider investing in a portable doorstop. This hotel door alarm is a combination door stop and alarm that will give you peace of mind when sleeping alone in a new place.
For more ways to stay safe, check out our article on The 20 Best Solo Female Travel Safety Tips.
Get to know as many people as you can, especially the people working in the hotels/hostels you’re staying in.
Not only will you make new friends, you’ll have someone else looking out for you. If you’re heading out on a day trip, let the hotel staff know. That way, if something goes wrong, they know to send help.
If you meet other solo female travelers on your trip, invite them to dinner or on excursions with you. It can be a nice change of pace to experience new things with new friends.
One tip: Be friendly, but don’t give away too much personal information to strangers. For the most part, people will be friendly right back at you, but not everyone needs to know that you’re traveling alone.
If you get a bad vibe from someone, trust your gut. It’s ok to lie and say that you’re traveling with friends or a partner.
Try to arrive at a new city or destination in the daylight. It’s easier to get your bearings in the dark at night when you’ve already walked through the same streets in the daytime. Plus, if you run into any snags, there’s a better chance that there will be people around that can help you.
If you’re receiving unwanted attention or feeling unsafe, be assertive. That alone can be enough to dissuade some people. If need be, quickly and confidently make your way to a public place.
Keep your head up, and consider carrying a safety whistle, which can simultaneously act as a deterrent and alert others that you may need help.
Most importantly, trust your gut. If something feels off, listen to your instincts. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Travel Tip: Try not to drink too much on your trip. It’s ok to sample the local libations, but it’s harder to keep your wits about you when you’re intoxicated. Plus, you’ll save money and feel less dehydrated the next day.
One of the problems with solo travel is that when things go wrong, it’s up to you and you alone to figure out how to fix them.
First things first—don’t panic.
Find a place where you feel safe and are around people that can help. Sometimes that’s as simple as ducking into a friendly local pub or restaurant. If you’re somewhere that gets a lot of tourist traffic, chances are you’re not the first traveler in distress the staff has encountered.
If you’re in a country where there’s a language barrier, have a translator app on your phone, like Google translate, and consider carrying a list or learning a few key phrases.
Planning ahead for these scenarios will make your life easier if they actually happen.
If you’re a woman traveling and want your adventure to be the most enjoyable, follow these top tips to keep yourself healthy throughout your journey.
Long flights can be brutal on your body. You can make the trip easier and more comfortable by wearing comfortable clothes, trying to get some sleep, and moving around and stretching if you can. Consider bringing a toothbrush or mints and moisturizing wet wipes on the flight to keep yourself feeling fresh. Most importantly, stay hydrated. Airplane air is notoriously drying.
For more tips on how to stay healthy and comfortable on a plane, check out our article How to Survive a Long Haul Flight in Economy.
Your hotel room, hostel, or campsite is a great place to do some stretches, yoga, or a quick workout. Lay down a towel on the floor, or consider bringing a lightweight travel yoga mat.
Skincare is also essential when it comes to feeling good while traveling. Wash your face after a long day of sightseeing, and make sure to have a good moisturizer on hand.
The most important thing to do in your hotel is to rest. If you have trouble sleeping, consider packing earplugs, an eye mask, or a sleep aid like melatonin, especially if you’re staying in a hostel or campsite where you might have noisy neighbors.
It goes without saying that you should eat your vegetables, even when traveling. Sometimes it can be difficult to find fresh vegetables on your trip, and other times it can be difficult to choose fresh vegetables on your trip—especially when there are other, more tempting options (ahem, gelato).
You shouldn’t feel like you need to forgo all of those tempting options—enjoying the local food is an essential part of travel and learning about other cultures, but you can keep yourself feeling good by balancing out your diet with fibrous and hydrating food.
Eating plenty of water-rich foods will keep you hydrated and feeling energized, plus it will keep your skin and your stomach feeling good.
Traveling can lead to stomach upset, so try to get plenty of fiber in your diet. Avoid excess amounts of coffee and alcohol, which can irritate your stomach and cause dehydration.
Remember, not every destination will have drinkable tap water (that includes ice and the water you use to brush your teeth as well). You can search your destination on the CDC’s website to see if the tap water is considered safe for consumption.
Again, being prepared in advance can be a game-changer when it comes to getting sick on a solo trip. Even just having a few essentials like Pepto Bismol and Liquid IV on hand can make a huge difference on a day when you wake up feeling under the weather in a new city or country.
It also helps to be prepared in advance with phone numbers of local medical facilities and any relevant medical info you might need to share.
Loneliness can creep in on a solo trip, even when you’re having the time of your life. The best way to combat it is to keep busy and relish your new experiences, but there are some other things you can do to help deal with loneliness or homesickness on your trip.
If possible, schedule a zoom or skype check-in with your family back home. Even just a quick catch-up can be very comforting.
If you can’t check in virtually, consider writing some letters or postcards to send home. You’ll feel comforted describing the best parts of your journey to your loved ones, and they’ll get a nice surprise when your letter arrives.
Finally, go meet some other solo female travelers! Meeting new people is one of the easiest ways to combat loneliness. It’s also one of the best things about solo female travel. Traveling gives you the opportunity to meet all kinds of new people, from the locals to fellow travelers—get out there and make new friends!
Making new friends is one of the best reasons to travel alone—and it’s so easy! It’s amazing how many people are ready to talk to you when your attention isn’t being entirely absorbed by your traveling companions.
If you have the opportunity, eat at the bar in restaurants. It’s a favorite location of solo diners because the communal seating makes it easy to chat with other patrons. Even if it’s slow, you’ll always have the bartender to chat with—plus, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to recommend some excellent sites or other restaurants that only a local would know about.
Joining classes or tour groups is another great way to make friends. You’ll meet other solo women with similar interests and share a new experience together.
Solo women travelers share a bond—it’s easy to connect with other women who have shared a similar experience.
The best part about traveling solo is that you get to do whatever you want! Here are some of our favorite things to do.
- Eat the local cuisine—and use dining as an opportunity to people-watch or chat with other solo travelers!
- Take a class—a traditional cooking or dance class is a great way to immerse yourself in local culture.
- Join a tour group—it’s a great way to make new friends while seeing the sites.
- Go to a traditional dance/music performance—If you’re an introvert traveling alone, this is a great way to experience local culture without feeling any pressure to talk to other people.
- Shop local—souvenirs and supporting local businesses? Win-win!
- Step outside your comfort zone and try something new!
Avoid these common mistakes to enjoy a hassle-free solo adventure.
- Not doing any research on the destination and local culture, including etiquette, customs, and appropriate clothing.
- Not keeping your valuables safe and concealed.
- One of the best things about Solo travel is that you can go wherever you want, whenever you want, but make sure you let someone know where you’re going—either someone back home or someone at the hotel/hostel you’re staying in. That way, if something happens, they can find you.
- Not experiencing the local culture—try the food, go to a dance club, see a show, and shop at small local businesses.
- Dressing like a tourist—if you want to fit in, leave the shorts and gym socks at home.
- Most importantly, don’t forget to allow for some spontaneity, and don’t be afraid to try new things!
You’ll choose your destination based on your own interests, budget, and preferred accommodations, but here are some of our favorite places for solo women travelers.
- New Zealand
If you’re trying to decide where to take your next trip, check out our article on First Time Solo Female Travel Destinations.
You might have to get a little creative to snap that perfect Instagram photo, but if you want to explore the world on your own terms, solo female travel is the way to go. You’ll come home feeling equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you. Plus, if you’re ever feeling lonely, just look out for all the other solo women travelers out there!